Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How fast can I ???

One of the great things about building car models (or any models) is that it is an activity that can be done while doing something else. For example, what goes together better with watching a race on TV than building a model of your favorite race car ??? (well, other than beer and pretzels because they go pretty well with watching a race too :) That theme (building a model, not drinking beer) has been done by various model clubs, although never by any of the ones that I am a member of. Still, it got me to thinking, could I build an entire kit, from start to finish, and have it look presentable, within the time constraints of a televised race??? Most of the competitions that I have read or heard about occured during a 12 or 24 hour race. Given that amount of time, I think that to be challenging they would need to build full kits, wire the engines, polish the paint and basically have a near-show quality model when done.
There are no 12 or 24 hour races that occur over the Memorial Day weekend. Instead, we have the Indianapolis 500, which I have watched or listened to almost every year since 1968, and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race. For the last several years, these two races have been on Sunday, one after the other with about a 2 hour gap between them. I figured roughly 3 hours for Indy, the two hour gap and 4 hours for the 600... Nine hours to build a kit from start to finish... Not much time at all really. I decided that given that amount of time, I would build a curb-side kit (one with no engine), do a basic paint job without polishing it and no super detailing... To make things more challenging, I would do the work in the living room working on a TV tray rather than at my work bench. Plus that way, I could spend time with my lovely wife, and have the challenge of kittens jumping on my lap and playing dogs trying to tip the TV tray over :) Choosing the kit was a no-brainer. I would build a Challenger, which is my absolute favorite car, new or old. I am pretty sure that my wife gets tired of hearing about them :) Anyway, model manufacturer AMT recently came out with two kits of the new Dodge Challenger, both are curbside kits, and, most important, I have them both already. I chose the 2008 Challenger SRT.
I brought the basic supplies (some files, super glue (styrene cement would take too long to dry), assorted tools and some bottle paints) out to the living room and started shortly after the drop of the green flag for the Indy 500. Even with no engine, there are still a lot of things that need to be done. I performed the basic clean up on the body parts, interior pan, dash board and chassis. During commercials, I spray painted them on the patio (my wife loves me, but not sure she would be too thrilled if I spray painted in the house :). Actually, she was still less than thrilled as I let the parts dry between coats in the kitchen, so there was a bit of a paint aroma. I decided that since the schedule was going to be so compressed I would need to use lacquer paint rather than enamel paint because it dries so much faster (minutes instead of hours). I would also limit the number of coats that I would use since I would not be polishing it out. For a normal project, I usually spray 3 color coats and 3 to 5 clear coats and then polish everything smooth as glass. For this project, I only sprayed on 2 color coats and 2 clear coats, used a little liquid polishing compound to knock down anything rough and finished with Meguire's carnuba automotive wax. The other thing I needed to control as much as possible was "orange peel". Orange peel is that bumpy texture that can occur in a paint job as it dries, kind of like the peel on an orange (hence the name). One of the things that can cause orange peel is that the paint is too cold when it is sprayed. In order to combat that, I usually warm my paint cans in a deep bowl of hot water for about ten minutes. That usually makes the paint flow on much smoother so then all I have to watch out for is runs. The real Challenger comes in 3 colors, black, silver and a reddish-orange. I decided that I wanted the orange, but with metal flake instead of just a solid color. I used Dupuli-color brand metalflake orange and then followed that with Dupli-color brand acrylic clear which has a high gloss when it dries.
Once the various parts were dry, it was then time to start detail painting and assembling. I worked slowly and steadily through Indy (yay! Danica finished 3rd !) Then into the Coke 600 (uh oh rain delays )... They finally postponed the 600 until the following day which actually helped me as some of the parts I brush painted needed time to dry as my bottle paints are mostly enamels.
Then once again on Monday, I set everything back up and got started when the 600 started. Once again there were a couple of rain delays and they finally called the race during the 3rd rain delay after a little over 300 miles. Was I done??? No, unfortunately, I was not finished. I had the completed interior sitting on the conpleted chassis, but the body was still in several pieces, head and tail lights were not done and windows were not installed... Things that did me in - detail painting - there were some things, such as the chassis which needed multiple colors and waiting for the enamel paint to dry between colors was long. The other thing that got me was decals. This kit included LOTS of little decals for just about everything. All of the dash gauges and displays, seats and other interior places, and all of the body badging were decals. They had to be put on one at a time and then straightened and aligned before they dried into place. I underestimated the time it would take to do them by a lot.
Well, phooey, I took everything back to my workbench and decided I would go ahead and finish it there. I was still trying to rush things and got a drop of silver paint on my orange metalflake body. I got it cleaned off in time with a Q-Tip and thinner before it set, and then used a little carnuba wax to re-shine that area, but I decided I would do it right rather than rush and goof everything up right at the end. I think it was another 3 hours of so to get it finished, which puts the hour total at probably 14-ish hours or so...
I am pleased with the results !!! It is sitting on my desk at work right now, and has received quite a few comments and compliments. So without further ado, here are a couple of shots (click to bigify) taken on my bench with not so good lighting - sorry...

I would not be ashamed to put this car on a model table in a competition. Would it win?? No, probably not - the paint is not quite totally smooth and there are no really super detailed areas, so it probably would not place. However, it DOES look really nice displayed with my other models and here on my desk. Next time I will have to work faster, but other that that, in the words of Dub - Mission Accomplished :)


Monday, May 11, 2009


On Sunday, May 11th, the Puget Sound Auto Modelers Association (PSAMA) held their 20th annual model car show at the Elks Lodge in Puyallup. The weather was perfect and it was Mother's Day, two strikes against holding an indoor show :) This was the show that I attended one year ago that made me decide to join the club and get back more into model building. And since I had so much fun at the IPMS Show last month, I decided that I would finish up a new model and debut it at this show. Let me tell you, that just about killed me :) I was up working on it until 1:30 AM on Sunday morning, and only went to bed for 4 hours because I could go no further as everything was waiting on something else to dry. I got up again at 5:30 and finished gluing the last part, the rear bumper, on at 6:15 AM. I have photos for an "Off the Bench" blog, but will wait and do that in a day or two. Anyway, I was supposed to meet the guys at the Lodge at 6:30 to start setting up, but after stopping at Starbucks and such I managed to get there about 7:10 AM -just in time to avoid most of the heavy work in the morning :) Check-in was supposed to start at 9 AM, but we started checking folks in around 8:30 as they were already lining up. A couple of us club members checked in first, set our stuff up on the tables and then came out to check-in everyone else. I did a little checking in, but mostly ran the spectator's admission table. Check-in went until noon, and actually, we had folks checking in for most of the morning. I think that final tally was that we had 165 exhibitors, which was down from last year, due mostly, I suspect, to the Mother's Day snafu. Our show was actually supposed to be the weekend before, but it was mis-booked by the Elks Lodge and they were unable to give us our normal weekend as they had already booked it with someone else. So, that should not happen next year as we already booked the hall for the correct weekend. Anyway, back to the show. The IPMS Show last month was a judged show, in that the models were judged. The PSAMA Show is not judged per se, instead everything, except in a few instances, is a popular vote of your peers. Balloting began at 11:45 and ran until 2:45 PM. Counting ballots began at 3:00 PM and awards presentation was about 3:30 or so. And to those of you who have made it this far, I will go ahead now and tell the REST of the story - How I did and what my new model is... Like I said earlier, I will do an OTB blog as well, so I won't focus too exclusive on it, that will come later... I took three models with me, my little silver Mercedes tuner, my green '67 Impala and my new creation - a pearl blue '61 Ford Falcon Sedan Delivery. The Impala and the Falcon were in the same class and after they were set up on the bench, this is what they looked like: As usual, all of my photos will biggify for those of you who are interested and click on them. I also took a couple of photos of the Mercedes, but they were blurry, so no photos of it will be included here. Hmmm, actually, I do have a shot of it sitting behind this gorgeous 66 Ford Galaxy that won that class...

At the awards presentation, the Impala was again the bridesmaid, garnering it's second second place in as many shows. The Falcon did not fair as well and did not place, but I know that it did finish just outside the top three, so there is nothing wrong with that... I did get the opportunity to chat with quite a variety of folks - one guy who was just starting back into modeling after a 30 year absence all the way up to one of the premier model builders on the West Coast, Shannon Diamaulo, from Vancouver, BC. She brought a wide variety of models with her, including one or two that I have seen in magazines, and several more that should have been. It was very cool being able to talk to someone of her calibre and I have several new tips that I cannot wait to ty out on future projects. She won Best of Show with a 60 or 61 (I forget which) Chevy Ice Cream Truck that was mostly scratch built. It was VERY well done. Probably the coolest part of the entire day for me was that there were were TWO photographers there, one of our club members taking photos for possible magazine submission (he like the Falcon and photographed it :) and a photographic team from Model Cars Magazine taking event photos for an upcoming issue that will cover this show who photographed BOTH of my cars (Falcon and Impala) for possible inclusion in that issue :) :) :) No guarantees that either of them will actually end up in a magazine, but you have no idea how cool it was to even be asked. And finally here is a photo of the Challenger Street Machine that won first place in my class... In addition to having the Street look nailed just about perfectly (I voted for it on my ballot :), the headlights and running lights also worked as well. In fact that was the case of all three of his cars in this photo. Pretty stiff competition in this class, I am already thinking about new projects to up the ante for next year - and branching into a few more classes as well... I am also wondering about more shows this year. One of the guys from my club is organizing a model show to coincide with the Good Guys Car Show this summer and there is talk of a new fall model show that will be in October / November of this year. Guess I have one more schedule I'll have to sort through and figure out what we have time to attend... :)